Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment

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Enabling Women's Economic Empowerment: ICRW Analysis Shows Women's Health Status Crucial to Economic Participation

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Shelby Bourgault, Lyric Thompson, Rachel Clement and Teresa Casale

*Read a 2020 update of this brief here.

As efforts to define and advance women’s economic empowerment gain traction in global development, evidence points to an often overlooked but essential ingredient: reproductive empowerment.

A woman’s reproductive years (15-49) tend to overlap with her years of working age (15 and above). As a result, pregnancy and childbearing have deep impacts on a woman’s labor force participation and her economic outcomes, and vice versa. With access to comprehensive reproductive health services, women not only have better health outcomes, but also experience better economic outcomes through greater labor force participation, greater chance of formal employment, and higher pay.

This brief presents the evidence behind the under-explored relationship between women’s reproductive and economic empowerment.